Rule: To maximize your win you must risk more on the better bets and less on the worse bets and nothing on the bad bets. You cannot expect to win by risking larger sums on poorer bets, and lesser sums on better bets.
Most bettors bet baseball by risking whatever is necessary to return their normal win amount. For example, if a bettor normally bets $110 to win $100 in sports with a point line, he will bet to win the same $100 when quoted a baseball money line. Thus, when the bettor believes the favorite will win against the money line in baseball, he will risk $125 to win $100 on a -125 favorite, $150 to win $100 on a -150 favorite, and $200 to win $100 on a -200 favorite.
Why do most bettors bet in this way? The common answer is, "That's the way everybody does it." Unfortunately, most people lose, and doing things the way "everybody" does them is not a prescription for winning.
When a bettor risks varying amounts based only on the line quoted by the bookmaker, the bettor is letting the bookmaker control the amount at risk. The bookmaker, however, does not have the best interest of the bettor in mind.
Let's use the Braves/Giants game played on August 18, 2008, as an example. The overnight odds on Atlanta were posted at -185. By the morning, the odds had moved up to -210. About an hour before game time, the odds varied from -230 to -240. Most $100 bettors who believed Atlanta would win risked $185 if they bet Atlanta overnight. If they bet Atlanta in the morning, they risked $210 to win the same $100. If they waited until an hour before game time to bet, then they risked $230, or possibly as much as $240, to win the same $100.
Let's pretend that we calculated Atlanta to have a 70% probability of winning the game against the Giants. The breakeven money line for a 70% proposition is -233. Atlanta would be a profitable bet at odds below -233, and a bad bet, with a negative expectation, at odds above -233. The farther below -233 that the line on Atlanta is set, the better the bet becomes. The higher above -233 that the line is set, the worse the bet gets. If we can lay odds of -185 on a 70% probability, we will win much more money over time than if we lay odds of -230.
The odds overnight were set at -185. The breakeven at odds of -185 is 65%. Since we calculated Atlanta to have a 70% probability of winning, the overnight bettor would have a 5% cushion and can expect a nice profit over time.
At the odds that existed in the morning of -210, the breakeven probability is 68%. Since the probability that Atlanta will win is 70%, the bettor's advantage in the morning is cut to just 2%. The difference between 5% and 2% may not sound like much, but the change from a 65% breakeven to a 68% breakeven is a 60% decrease in the bettor's advantage on the bet. Despite the huge decrease in the edge, the morning bettor risks $210, which is 13.5 % more than he would have risked if he bet at odds of -185 overnight.
The breakeven win percentage at odds of -230 is 69.7%. Laying -230 is barely profitable when betting on a team with a 70% probability of winning. Nevertheless, most bettors would risk $230 when the odds are -230, which is 24% more risk than the same bettor would have risked if he played overnight at odds of -185. Betting 24% more when you have a barely profitable 0.3 % edge than you would have bet if you had a very profitable 5.0% edge makes little logical sense for the bettor, but is great for the bookmaker. The bettor should be doing the exact opposite.
The worse the bet gets, the more money most bettors will risk based on the money line. If the line moves from high to low instead, most bettors will risk less money as the bet gets better. As for the poor bettor who gets a line of -235 or -240, he will riskt the most on a bet with odds that are higher than the probability that Atlanta will win, and therefore on a bet that has a negative expectation and no long term probability of a profit. Then bettors wonder why they always end up losing money over the course of each baseball season.
If you bet baseball like "everybody," you are in serious danger of losing money while betting the same games that make money for the professional who controls his own risk.
To control your own risk, decide on the value of the selection, and then divide that risk by the posted money line. If you normally would risk $100 per game, you would risk the same $100 in baseball to win whatever the comeback may be at the odds. For example, if the money line on Atlanta is -200, you would risk $100 to win $50, and NOT $200 to win $100. If the odds on Atlanta go up to -220, you would risk the same $100 to win $100 divided by 2.20 = $45.
If you are able to accurately calculate probabilities with your handicapping method, you should seek to reduce the amount you place at risk as the odds get worse, and increase the amount you place at risk as the odds get better. Thus, if you would risk $100 at odds of -200, you would risk only $90 to win $41 if the odds are -220, and $110 to win $61 if the odds are -180.
If you can't accurately calculate probabilities, then you must either keep your risk the same, or obtain the services of a handicapper who can calculate the probabilities for you. Whatever you do, DO NOT bet "like everybody else."
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